Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important Information From Sharp - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important Information From Sharp

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Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 11:33 am | Updated: 11:44 am, Wed Mar 25, 2020.

Sharp's Infectious Disease team is monitoring COVID-19 daily, and is in close contact with local and state health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are taking every precaution to keep you safe, and all appropriate infection prevention measures have been implemented to prevent exposure to other patients and medical staff.

In this ever-changing climate, we are mindful that you are concerned and looking for answers. They will continue to share information here, and encourage you to check back for updates.

What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The respiratory virus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in late 2019.

This virus likely emerged from an animal source and is now spreading from person to person. While some viruses, like the flu and measles, are highly contagious, others are less so. World health leaders and scientists are trying to identify how COVID-19 is spreading and how to contain it.

Coronavirus screening and testing

What do I do if I have a fever and respiratory symptoms and want to see a doctor?

Call your doctor's office or health care provider if you think you need to be evaluated. We will advise you on the best way to receive the care you need without compromising your health, and the health of other patients and staff. Please do not come to the emergency room or to one of our urgent care centers unless your doctor has instructed you to do so or you feel you are having a life-threatening emergency. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

If you do not have a primary care physician, call us at 1-800-82-SHARP ( 1-800-827-4277) for a physician referral.

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or is being evaluated for, coronavirus, and think you may be sick, the CDC recommends self-isolation within your home.

You should also:

Monitor your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person

Continue monitoring for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person

Watch for these signs and symptoms:

-Fever (take your temperature twice a day)

-Cough

-Runny nose

-Sore throat

-Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

If you develop a fever or any of these symptoms, call your health care provider immediately and inform them of your close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, coronavirus.

What should I do if I am being evaluated for coronavirus?

If you're being evaluated for the virus and don't need to be hospitalized, you should take the following steps:

Stay home except to get necessary medical care

Separate yourself from any other people in your home

Call ahead before visiting your health care provider to let them know you're being evaluated for coronavirus

Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, utensils, cups, etc.

Monitor symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if the illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing)

How is Sharp screening patients for coronavirus?

Sharp HealthCare facilities have a standard protocol in place for any infectious disease, including the coronavirus, and each facility has a surge capacity plan to ensure proper care is delivered to all our patients.

At Sharp emergency departments, urgent care centers and medical clinics, we ask arriving patients about:

Recent travel: please inform your health care provider if you have recently traveled to any affected geographic areas as noted by the CDC

Contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Any symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 (such as high fever and dry cough)

If a patient meets these criteria, the patient is immediately masked and placed in a private room in a hospital or clinic setting. If necessary, transport is arranged if a patient needs to be moved from a clinic to a hospital for further evaluation and possible testing.

Is Sharp testing patients for coronavirus?

If the patient meets the criteria for a COVID-19 test, a caregiver will take a nasal and/or oral swab and send it to Sharp's privately contracted laboratory. This is currently the protocol that is in place for all Sharp HealthCare facilities.

Labs across San Diego County are experiencing delays because of volume and limited supplies. Currently, test results take up to five days after receipt of samples. If the sample is positive, Sharp will notify Public Health Services and a care plan will be determined.

Sharp patients are encouraged to use FollowMyHealth® to communicate with their providers and learn their test results.

Can anyone be tested for coronavirus?

Not everyone will be tested for coronavirus. While testing supplies have increased, we need to protect against shortages that could result if we test everyone. People who think they need to be tested should call their primary care doctor. If appropriate, your doctor will advise you on where to go for testing.

To determine who should be tested, we use the guidelines and criteria set forth by the CDC and Public Health Services:

Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

Other symptomatic individuals who are considered high-risk for COVID-19. These include: older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).

Any persons, including health care personnel, who had close contact with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.

Any persons, including health care personnel, who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset.

Where do I get the test if I don't have insurance?

If you have a primary care doctor, we suggest that you contact your doctor to be evaluated. Not every patient will be tested for coronavirus, so we recommend that you receive an evaluation by a doctor before coming to the hospital or an urgent care center.

If you do not have a primary care physician, we can provide you a referral to a low- or no-cost community clinic.

Does Sharp offer "drive-thru" testing or "testing tents?" Can a person just walk in?

Sharp does not currently provide "drive-thru" testing or "testing tents." People who think they need to be tested should call their primary care doctor. If appropriate, your doctor will advise you on where to go for testing.

When will Sharp get more tests?

Sharp has established relationships with independent laboratories to help increase testing capacity and decrease test results time. Additionally, we have established the technology platform for internal COVID-19 testing and are awaiting more test kits and chemical reagents to become available to process test samples. Internal COVID-19 testing will allow for turnaround of results in approximately 24 hours.

How are Sharp labs handling the coronavirus pandemic? Can we wait outside the lab? Are you taking patients' temperatures before allowing them in the lab?

Sharp is practicing social distancing whenever and wherever possible. If you are concerned about having room to distance yourself from other patients in the lab, we suggest that you call ahead. We are not taking every patient's temperature because patients can be contagious even without a fever.

If your lab work is not urgent, we advise that you wait until the pandemic is over.

Why has Sharp Memorial Hospital closed its lab in the middle of this pandemic?

To ensure that the main lab in Sharp Memorial Hospital has capacity to support inpatients during the pandemic, we ask that outpatients access any of Sharp Lab Services' other 17 locations. The closest location to Sharp Memorial Hospital is directly across the street at 8010 Frost Street.

I don't work at Sharp and my employer told me that I need to get a coronavirus (or some other) test.

Your employer's occupational health (sometimes called employee health) department can refer you to the occupational medicine program they prefer. Sharp Occupational Health has locations across San Diego. Please have your occupational health or human resources department contact your occupational health provider.

How is Sharp keeping areas clean and preventing the spread of infection?

At Sharp, our standard precautions include masking patients with respiratory symptoms like a cough, runny nose or sore throat.

Masks for patients with influenza-like illness are provided at Sharp hospitals, clinics and urgent care centers. Signs are placed outside the entryway of each facility asking patients to put on a mask if they have symptoms associated with a viral illness or if they have traveled outside the U.S. in the past 14 days.

At Sharp Rees-Stealy clinics and urgent care centers, a greeter will meet patients at each entrance to ask screening questions and direct the patient appropriately. If no greeter is present, signs are posted to advise patients.

Waiting areas and lobbies are frequently disinfected to minimize exposure of germs to patients and visitors. This includes disinfectant wipes on high-touch surface areas, such as furniture, seating areas, counters, and other areas patients and staff may touch.

We have also asked all our volunteers to stay at home and not work their shifts, regardless of their age.

Will a mask be provided if I come to a Sharp facility?

Masks for patients with influenza-like illness are provided at Sharp hospitals, clinics and urgent care centers. Signs are placed outside the entryway of each facility asking patients to put on a mask if they have symptoms associated with a viral illness or if they have traveled outside the U.S. in the past 14 days.

Are there any COVID-19 cases at Sharp hospitals?

Patient information is being managed by Public Health Services and we are following their guidelines regarding release of any information. However, Sharp facilities are prepared to care for anyone in need of care.

Because of patient privacy laws, we cannot disclose any patient information to protect patients' privacy and health records. The County Health Department keeps a detailed list of those patients who are confirmed to have COVID-19 and persons under investigation (PUIs); they also have detailed information of how many are undergoing hospitalization or those who are on home isolation.

Is Sharp limiting in-person workers?

Employees of health care providers are considered essential workers by all levels of government. Since health care is an in-person industry, Sharp and other health care providers are not readily equipped for high numbers of employees working remotely.

Sharp is working to equip staff to work from home, where feasible, as quickly as possible. We are prioritizing clinical staff who can provide telephone support and triage to patients while at home, protecting these health care workers from infection so we can continue to treat our patients and the community.

We ask patience from all of our staff, and invite individuals to discuss telework options with their direct managers.

What do I do if I feel sick with a non-coronavirus concern (urinary tract infection, ear infection, etc.)?

Please contact your doctor's office or health care provider prior to visiting a health care facility. We will advise you on the best way to receive the care you need.

Video and phone appointments are convenient and safe, and are being provided free of charge to Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group patients, regardless of insurance type. Patients of Sharp Community Medical Group and SharpCare primary care doctors may be able to access video and phone visits through telehealth partner PlushCare; contact your doctor's office to learn about options.

Contact your doctor's office to schedule the right appointment for your needs. Of course, if you are experiencing a life- or limb-threatening emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

Can I make a new doctor's appointment not related to COVID-19?

Many doctor's offices, including Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, SharpCare and Sharp Community Medical Group-affiliated practices, are not scheduling any routine, follow-up or wellness appointments at this time to ensure that doctors and clinical staff are available to treat patients who are currently sick. Please contact your doctor or health care provider to advise you on the best way to receive the care you need.

What if I already have a scheduled appointment?

Many doctor's offices and Sharp hospitals are rescheduling nonemergent, elective procedures and nonessential appointments, including elective surgery, physical therapy, radiology or similar services.

Your doctor is reviewing all appointments to see which may safely be rescheduled or converted to a phone or video visit. If your appointment is medically necessary, your doctor will arrange care for you in the safest way possible.

Please do not call your doctor about these appointments. If your appointment must be rescheduled, your doctor's office will call you.

Is it safe to come to an appointment at Sharp?

If your doctor has urged you to schedule a medically necessary appointment not related to coronavirus at this time, know that we are taking every precaution to keep you safe.

If you would like to learn about alternative ways to be seen by your doctor, please call your doctor's office. Video and phone appointments are convenient and safe, and are being provided free of charge to Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group patients, regardless of insurance type. Patients of Sharp Community Medical Group and SharpCare primary care doctors may be able to access video and phone visits through telehealth partner PlushCare; contact your doctor's office to learn about options.

Can I refill my current prescription medications?

If you need a prescription refill, please contact your pharmacy. If you are out of refills, your pharmacy will contact your doctor for you. Ask your pharmacy if delivery is an option for you. Many pharmacies are waiving delivery fees at this time.

Continue to take all current medications unless otherwise directed by your doctor. You may want to consider having a two-week supply of your current medications on hand. Some health plans are allowing a 14-day supply of maintenance medications to be refilled early, which your pharmacist can assist with. Opioids, controlled substances and some other medications will continue to have refill restrictions.

Can my doctor write a note for me or my child to return to work or school?

The CDC and other public health agencies recommend that employers remove the requirement to have a doctor's note in order to return to work after recovering from a respiratory or other illness. Most doctors, including those with Sharp Rees-Stealy, SharpCare and Sharp Community medical groups, are following this protocol and will not be providing notes.

All schools in San Diego are closed until at least early April. While we would like to accommodate requests for a doctor's note for children to return to any schools currently operating, most doctors, including those with Sharp Rees-Stealy, SharpCare and Sharp Community medical groups, are unable to provide such notes at this time. We advise you to wait until your child is free from symptoms before returning to school.

What if I need more information?

If you have a health-related concern not addressed here, please call your doctor's office for assistance. If you have additional questions about how Sharp is addressing coronavirus, call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to 5 pm.

What are Sharp's hospital visitation guidelines?

While it is safe to come to any Sharp facility for your medical needs, we have implemented new visitation guidelines for our hospitals to protect those who are most vulnerable in accordance with the County Health Department order.

Until further notice, the following restrictions are in effect:

No visitors are allowed to visit a patient at any Sharp hospital or skilled nursing, subacute or transitional care facility, except in an end-of-life situation or if the patient is a minor.

Only one adult (18 and older) support person is allowed for maternity patients at Sharp hospitals.

Only one adult (18 and older) is allowed to visit an adolescent patient at Sharp Mesa Vista.

No children are allowed inside the lobbies of Sharp hospital Emergency Departments and Sharp Mary Birch.

Anyone visiting under these restrictions must be free of any symptoms of respiratory illness.

Allowed visitors will be screened for health and travel history prior to seeing a patient.

No one under the age of 18 may accompany a patient to any appointment at a Sharp Rees-Stealy clinic.

Sharp Mary Birch NICU visitation: Only adults with wristbands will be allowed in the NICU, and siblings will not be permitted.

For more information or updated information, visit https://www.sharp.com/services/coronavirus.cfm.

To learn more about the coronavirus, please visit the following:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institutes of Health

World Health Organization

San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency

If you have additional questions, please call 211 San Diego.

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